Conflict Resolution Basics, Part One.

Conflict Resolution:- using “I” statements.
A technique for communicating truth, which greatly reduces the chances of the listener feeling hurt.

I feel...
when you...
because... (optional)
and what I would like is...

for instance...
I feel hurt
when you don't tell me what you really feel, and what's going on with you
because I love you, I want to know the real you, and I care about your happines
because I feel grief, alone, lost, confused, can't figure out what I did wrong

and what I would like is to work this out in a way that is equally good for both of us

Note... you're not blaming her, or making her the cause of your emotional pain.
A relatively sane person will thus not interpret the situation as criticism, which triggers the ego into hurt, anger, and the desire to fight back.
Some people can still get upset, due to a tendency to turn everything in their minds into an attack, whether it is or not. This is harder to deal with, but can still be managed, by taking the focus back to the actual words spoken, and clarifying that they are not the cause of your feelings, that it's simple how you react to this kind of situation. One can even throw in examples of how others might react differently.


Dealing with emotions.

The ability to be aware and centered in oneself and to remain calm is extremely helpful in conflict resolution.

Hormones or neurotransmitters act like drugs in the brain. Once they are present, one is much less able to control the emotions than a drunk driver can avoid an accident. These bio-chemicals are compelling.

Once adrenaline (as in anger) had flooded the mind and body, it takes 20 minutes for the body to break the hormone down into simpler molecules and dispose of it through the kidneys.

If another trigger for anger occurs within that 20 minutes, anger will rise sharply, rapidly escalating with each new trigger.

When this is happening it is physiologically faster then the brain can think, hence it short circuits rational or peacemaking words and behaviours.

The only sensible choice at a time like this is to ask for some time out, or separation for 20 or more minutes. Make an agreement about when you will come back together to discuss it calmly.

Anger is a secondary emotion.
This is extremely hard to observe because the flash point seems lightening fast.
It is always preceded by one of three emotions.
Pain (emotional or physical), shame, or fear.

Pain can be from a perceived hurt to the ego, or something like back pain or migraine, which can make a person tired, hypersensitive and irritable.

Shame can be healthy or toxic.
When healthy, it is the source of our conscience, and allows us to have appropriate limits to our behaviour, feel regret or remorse for mistakes, and want to make amends.
When toxic, it can have different forms.
It can be a refusal to admit responsibility for having made a mistake, blaming the other wrongly. For instance a child of three or four runs out on the road after a ball. The parent catches up and spanks the child with a furious tirade of verbal abuse. The child is not at fault because it's too young to understand the danger, and too young to have developed impulse control. It was the parent's responsibility to have a fence, only allow play in a safe area, or be in a position to catch the ball.
Toxic shame can also be an inappropriate acceptance of responsibility. For instance, if someone commits suicide and the person close to them blames him- or herself.
Healthy shame says "I made a mistake, did or said something wrong".
Toxic shame blames others, or says "I am wrong." The person has a profoundly negatives self worth. The one who blames others also has low self worth, but is unable to face it consciously, and is deflecting.
Fear can be either highly realistic; there is a genuine threat or risk.
Or it can be, and often is, caused by an anxiety, or negative interpretations of situations around us.

Any one of these sources of anger, or any combination, can be present in conflict.
In primary relationships, the path to greater intimacy and mutual understanding, comes through finding the source of the anger, what feelings and thoughts or interpretations gave rise to it, and sorting out the reality.
Once this is done, it becomes much easier to find a solution to solve the problem.
Sometimes acting on the solution might be a matter of attempting to break old habits, or learn new ones, so can take some patience.


hartfire hartfire 56-60, F Apr 14, 2012

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